THE Ulster championship continued to deliver last weekend with a pulsating encounter between old rivals Monaghan and Tyrone.
The game was an absolute cracker that had everything you want from the game of football. This was a massive one for Vinny Corey and his players.
When you consider their league campaign and the amount of pressure that they were under heading into this year’s championship, it was an excellent victory.
There were a lot of question marks hanging over this Monaghan squad, especially those older members of the squad who have been around for quite some time.
But, typically, Monaghan did what they have done over the last 10 years or so, and they turn in a monster performance when it’s needed most with their elder statesman leading the charge.
Whatever it is about them, they can always lift it for the Ulster Championship, but let’s not get too carried away. I don’t think they have what it takes to cause serious damage towards the latter end of the season but they will certainly give Ulster a good rattle.
Before I move on, I want to touch on the winning goal by young O’Toole and give him great credit for scoring it, but it amazes me just how many people were shocked that he actually went for a goal.
This tells us a lot about where we are at the moment in terms of Gaelic Games.
If we rewind to 10 or 15 years ago, any player who gets in that situation is going for goal but nowadays we are overly obsessed with stats and turnovers.
Players are nearly afraid to do what should come naturally, so great credit to the young lad for bucking the trend.
This weekend is a massive weekend for ourselves here in Donegal as we aim to get our Ulster campaign off to a winning start.
It has been well publicised over the last number of weeks about the turmoil in this county, so you can appreciate that we will be a little nervous before this week’s game.
This is a massive game for the squad, because a win will do wonders for their confidence, and God only knows then where they could end up. A loss may be catastrophic for their season.
I am told the lads have trained hard and are trying to put the whole fallout behind them. So, hopefully, we will see a bit of a spark from the young lads and maybe things might turn in our favour after this weekend.
At the start of the season, I had earmarked Down as a potential team to watch given that Conor Laverty had taken the reins. So, to say that this is a tricky assignment would be an understatement. Conor is a fantastic coach, one of the best about.
You can see his influence on the Down u-20s over the last two years and given the fact that he has Jim McGuinness involved in the background, they may be a tough nut to crack at the weekend.
Down have suffered at the hands of Donegal over the last decade or so and I’m sure that Conor Laverty will be keen to turn the screw this weekend on home soil and get his troops off to a winning start.
Do I think that Donegal can go there and get the win? Of course I do, but they will only do so if every last member of the panel fully buys into it and decides to do whatever it takes to get themselves across the line.
A win for either side here will do wonders for their confidence and whoever wins this weekend‘s game will then fancy their chances in Ulster because the camp will be absolutely buzzing with the result.
When you look across the media this week, you can understand why most people will go for a Down win given the amount of disarray that has been in Donegal footballing circles over the last few months.
Here in Donegal, sometimes that kind of fall out can spark something deep inside of us and we may just upset the odds with a little luck so I’ll go for a two point win for our lads.
Elsewhere this weekend, Cavan take on Armagh and although Cavan are always a tricky opposition – especially at home – I’ll have to go for a Armagh win.
I just think that they will have too much firepower for Cavan this weekend, so Armagh to win by five.